DICKINSON, N.D. - When properly used, opiates can be vital in helping patients deal with physical pain.
But, they can also be very addictive, and it's a growing problem nationwide and here in North Dakota, where 61 people died of overdoses in 2015 and the numbers are rising.
So, what's being done to combat the problem?
We have three examples of how resources are pouring in to help people in the throes of addiction.
When people saw a need for more access to opioid abuse treatment in Bismarck Mandan, Heartview Foundation took on a new role.
Its opioid treatment program has only been open for several months and has expanded in that short time.
Abuse of prescription pills and other opioids has expanded in Bismarck Mandan. Heartview Foundation is working to help reverse the trend.
"To be able to see firsthand how this medication as well as the services provided here at Heartview can impact peoples lives it's rewarding," said Kimberla Mayers, registered nurse at Heartview Foundation.
Kimberla Mayers is part of the opioid treatment program introduced last March. Thirty people battling opioid addictions are receiving doses of Methadone, a synthetic narcotic that relieves the craving of opiates and helps lessen withdrawal symptoms by occupying brain receptors.
"Given the addition of Methadone, it has expanded the number of calls that we get, as well as our case load," said Susan Wagner, chief compliance officer at Heartview Foundation.
Patients are successfully managed on different doses of Methadone, for example, one patient could be receiving this dose, while another patient could be receiving this dose.
"The doctor uses the Federal guidelines for assessment, the patient's history of usage, how much how long its been, to determine what she feels is a safe starting point for patients," said Mayers
Mayers says there's also no stereotype for an opiate dependent patient. She agrees that there's criticism on the use of the medication, but says they are attentive to patients' behaviors on the medication.
"The treatment that we do, the concern that they are here just to get high or just to maintain their high, isn't as prevalent," said Mayers.
Heartview expects the program to expand to possibly 100 patients within the first year.
The people at Heartview want the community to reach out if they have any questions regarding Methadone treatment or any of their programs.
They say to call their main line at 701-222-0386.